It’s time for back to school and back to a daily routine. Set yourself up for success this fall finding ways to create balanced lunches that will fuel you family with nutritious veggies and snack ideas. Our friend Erin Kane, a mom and dedicated teacher, is here to tell you to explain how she makes fresh, delicious lunches for her girls with bright, delicious snack-sized veggies.
CONQUER SCHOOL LUNCHES –
It’s always a clear sign that summer is coming to a close when the store aisles start lining with school supplies and back to school clothes. My youngest daughter is starting junior kindergarten this year and it is so exciting for both of us! The start of the school year, unfortunately, also means tackling school lunches once again which many of us dread. The first two weeks back are never too bad, but after that school lunches become my least favorite chore. It’s no wonder why; it can feel impossible to find time to make healthy and exciting lunches for picky eaters. As a teacher and a mom, I have a few tried and tested strategies for conquering school lunches to ensure that they are full of nutrients, yet still something the kids will eat! I hope you try out them out this year as part of your back-to-school plans.
START WITH A PLAN –
Planning and preparing school lunches in advance is the biggest favor you can do for yourself. You don’t want to be trying to cobble together random leftovers before bed on a Sunday night. Your kids probably won’t love that either meaning no one will be happy with the end result. Instead, sit down on a weeknight with your kids and come up with lunch ideas that work for all of you. My favorite way to look for recipes is online through Pinterest, but you can find recipes all over the internet these days. If you have a few kids, you could task them to hunt down recipes together and then you can pick the ones that work best for your family. To find nutritious and diverse lunches all in one place, check out Pure Flavor®’s recipe cache, where you can find easy and healthy lunch ideas. Deciding on lunches for the week before you go grocery shopping also helps to keep you organized, which can also save you money if you aren’t purchasing things you don’t need. You won’t have any forgotten items in the back of your fridge if you have a clear purpose for every item you buy.
PREP TOGETHER –
Starting at the grocery store, you can get them involved in preparing school lunches. Beyond the main items in their lunch, they can help you pick out healthy snacks. This way, you’ll be able to keep up with their ever changing preferences. Snacks help give their lunch variety! They don’t have to be granola bars—one of my favorite ways to include more vegetables into my kids’ lunches is with Mini Munchies® Snack Sized Veggies. By throwing a pack in their lunch bag, I’m giving them a variety of kid-friendly options that are perfectly snack-sized and crunchable. Cloud 9® Bite-Sized Fruity Tomatoes are a great option if your kids are fiends for sweet snacks; these tasty bites will satisfy almost any craving. At home, you can get your kids involved in making their lunches if they’re old enough to safely help in the kitchen. Have them help wash the veggies or add the prepared items to containers. When my kids play a role in choosing what goes in their lunch and get to be creative, there’s a higher chance that they will eat their whole lunch. Picky eaters can be fussy about how their food is prepared, so getting them involved in preparation is a particularly effective strategy.
If your kids are picky eaters, you may worry that they’re not getting the nutritional elements that they need to succeed at school. Try expanding their lunch options and experimenting with bento box lunches. They’re like a charcuterie board in a box! Bento box lunches can be a complete and delicious meal if you put them together right. It’s pretty simple to do; just make sure you’re including a balance of carbs, healthy fats, and proteins in addition to fruits and vegetables. Some of my favorite veggies to put in my kids’ bento boxes are Aurora Bites Mini Sweet Peppers and Sangria® Medley Tomatoes; they are loaded with Vitamin A and C, which help boost their immune system. As a teacher, I load up on these veggies during cold season! If your kids are sometimes hesitant about veggies, you can always include their favorite dip or creamy hummus to get them on board.
BENTO BOX IDEAS –
Try something different when you are putting together a bento box. Here are a few great ideas that my ids love:
- Breakfast for lunch with Cloud 9® Bite-Sized Tomatoes
- Cheese, crackers, and turkey bites
- Uno Bites™ Nano Cucumbers with hummus
- Chips and salsa
- Homemade energy bites
THINK OUTSIDE THE LUNCH BOX-
Kids need a lot of fuel to get through their day; not only for busy days at school, but their bodies also needs energy to grow! Starting their day with a hefty breakfast, complete with complex carbs, fats and protein, will help them stay full for longer. An example of a breakfast our family loves would be Solara™ Mini Melon wedges with Greek yogurt to dip, and a bowl of oatmeal. One of my favorite breakfasts is a Melon and Pistachio Breakfast Bowl; it’s filling and nutritious, but also so decadent.
When myself, my kids, or my students don’t fuel themselves with the right food, it shows as the day progresses. Set yourself, and your kids, up for success this fall and fuel those busy days with nutritious veggies and balanced meals. It may sometimes feel like a challenge to lunch prep, but the better you and your family eat, the more equipped you are to tackle everything from homework to errands. Helping your little ones form healthy and constructive meal habits is worth it in the long run. The extra time you spend chopping veggies in the kitchen is more meaningful than you might think!